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MIAMI-International Place Associates IV Ltd. is setting aside about 35 acres of prime industrial land in the airport/west submarket for unusual use with the idea of banking the site’s future land value.

The affiliate of Miami-based Easton Group is leasing about 12% of the 300-acre International Corporate Park to Aquatic Development Group Inc., a diversified Cohoes, NY-based company that constructs water theme parks such as Dolly’s Splash Country, a 25-acre, $25-million recreation facility in Pigeon Forge, TN.

It made good business sense to turn the vacant 35-acre tract of land into a revenue-producing property, Edward W. Easton, Easton Group chairman, tells GlobeSt.com, since there are no immediate plans to construct industrial-warehouse space on site.

Although he did not disclose details of the deal, Easton says his company maintains only a minority partnership in the venture with Aquatic Development.

“It’s a very good deal for everybody,” Easton says. “But it gives us good diversification. It makes sense for us to land bank the property for a very long time under a ground lease.”

The decision to land bank the property comes at a time when the heavily industrial airport/west submarket is reacting sluggishly to an overall softer economy.

Demand for industrial space in the submarket kept the vacancy rate in the single-digits over the past several years, but market research published by Cushman & Wakefield of Florida Inc. shows that the vacancy rate increased to 12.2% as of the first quarter ended March 31.

That compares with a rate of 11.5% for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2000. The rate averaged about 11.1% as of the second quarter ended June 30, 2001.

Because of local zoning ordinances, there is some uncertainty over the company’s decision to consider development of a recreational facility on the 35-acre site.

The Miami-Dade County community council charged with reviewing zoning and development applications in the airport/west submarket recently split over a decision whether to approve the request from the Easton Group affiliate. The application has been rescheduled for reconsideration at a Sept. 5 meeting.

In the application, the Easton Group affiliate is requesting a substantial deviation change in the property from light industrial to a use that permits an amusement park, restaurants, bars, gift shops and other water theme park uses on four parcels roughly north and south of Northwest 12th Street between Northwest 97th Avenue and Northwest 98th Court, south of Northwest 14th Street and east of theoretical Northwest 100th Avenue and also west of Northwest 102nd Avenue and north of Northwest 15th Terrace.

The rezoning request seeks a non-use variance from parking requirements–to 505 spaces from the required 1,741–and modification of the required amount of greenbelt space that separates the property from the roadways.

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